Vihiga County

Discover Vihiga County

View of the rocky Vihiga County.  Photo Courtesy of Amusivwa Amos
View of the rocky Vihiga County. Image Courtesy of Amusivwa Amos

Brief Overview of Vihiga County

25 kms northwest of Kisumu City at Maseno commences the pocket-sized and populous Vihiga County. In spite of the fact that it is in the heart of the tropics, astraddle the equator, the climate over most of Vihiga, thanks to its altitude, is unusually pleasant.  On the map, it appears as an oval drawn with an unsteady hand, wedged in-between Kisumu, Siaya, Kakamega and Nandi Counties, with Kakamega and Kaimosi Forests marking its extreme eastern frontier. Given its middling strategic spot Vihiga County has a bonanza of lines of communication.

In the west, it is crossed by Kisumu-Busia Road through Maseno and Luanda. It’s also crossed down the middle by Kisumu-Kakamega Road through Majengo and Chavakali. The latter branches out at Gisambai with a primary road aiming northwest for Mudete. Fabulous scenery en-route, especially over the shoulder of Maragoli Hill, past Majengo, and the subsequent Bunyore Hills. As its names suggests (translating to rocks) are the abounding granite rocks and formations seen all-around its picturesque rolling landscape, and the emblematic hallmark.

A trip to Vihiga’s beautiful hills and valleys with many streams flowing through them is an unforgettable experience of splendid sights. On the higher reaches of these hillsides are views of Kisumu and Lake Victoria in the distant background. One of the intangible attractions at Vihiga County is emphatically the sprightly cultural calisthenics.  Vihiga, one of the most populous rural Counties of Kenya, is home to the Maragoli Tribe (a sub-groups of Luhya) who on cultural diversity and distinctions are the most interesting group in Kenya. A short distance from Mungoma Cave, one can visit the original home of the famous Maragoli People.

Salient Features of Vihiga County

  • County Number 38
  • Area – 531 km2
  • Altitude – 1300 to 1800 ms
  • Major Towns – Luanda, Mbale, Maseno, Serem
  • Borders – Nandi, Kakamega, Siaya, Kisumu

Brief History of Vihiga County

Vihiga District was hived-off from the former larger Kakamega District. Vihiga is also synonymous with the interesting Tiriki People, another sub-tribes of the larger Luhya community, who reside majorly in Hamisi and who migrated from Mount Elgon. Their lingo and cultural traditions are most similar to those of the Bongomek Society.  Before colonialism, the communities of Vihiga had defined their boundaries based on occupation of each; each region and each community having it own unique jurisdiction, language, customs, lifestyles, and leadership.

View atop the rocky Maragoli Hills, overlooking Maseno.  Photo Courtesy of Dala Adventures
Maragoli Hills, overlooking Maseno. Image Courtesy of Dala Adventures

Places of Interest to Visit in Vihiga County

1. Nganyi Forest

Forests draw many forms of life, from plants to insects and many other kinds of animals. And humans too. A mysterious, but all wise, unparalleled richness and impressive display of nature. It stands true that around the world, forests – big, small, dense, thin – are an inexplicable form of nature’s grandeur. We behold them – haunted, mythical, sacred, diverse – as an influence upon the destiny of humankind; which beckon and draw us within these just cathedrals of nature in many respects to explore their mystique. In Vihiga, the one acre Nganyi Forest at Esibilla near Luanda lacks little in engendering the mysterious power of our forests. Nganyi is home to the famous rainmakers with abilities to predict rain, at the same time control rain when floods occur. “Their legacy is so articulated that President Jomo Kenyatta pleaded with them to annul the drought of 1973”. Their rainmaking traditions are as old as people have lived in these neck of the woods. “The father of the Banyore sub-tribe (Anyole) is credited with being the very first rainmaker”. The gift of provoking rain was passed down through the elders of the Abasiekwe Clan, and master rainmakers have predicted weather for many ages since. In a generally sense, it is conducted by: observing budding, flowering and shedding of leaves of specific species; listening to croaking frogs; listening to chirping birds; as well as, observing behaviors of local insects and animals. Unadorned, but amazingly accurate. So much so, that the Government set-up a meteorological station near this tiny forest. And both forecasts almost always match! So revered is Nganyi Forest that the trees that fall over within it are at no time utilized for further merit but are left in it to decompose naturally.

2. Roddy’s Green Lounge

Established in 2010 along the B1 Kisumu-Busia Road at Mumias Junction, the 10-cottages eco friendly and welcoming Roddy’s Green Lounge offers a restful base for trippers touring the western area of Vihiga County. It offers a simple, rustic and well-thought layout to its cottages and of its well-kept and variegated outdoors for relaxation. Some of its other highlights include; its continental-cuisines, its theme nights, its gazebos, the children areas, its beautiful gardens, its tree nursery, and cultural tours to villages around Roddy’s. It is also within easy reach of Bunyore Hills and Ndanu Falls. It is located 42 kms from Kisumu.

Spatial Location of Roddy's Green Lounge in Vihiga County
Spatial Location of Roddy’s Green Lounge in Vihiga County

3. Bunyore Hills

These are situated at the southwest area of Vihiga along B1 Kisumu-Busia Road near Luanda. The 30 kms long line of Bunyore Hills marked by piles of granite rocks and forested peaks, forming the unofficial boundary between Vihiga and Kisumu Counties, are a most spectacular landmark. Bunyore Hills also form the headwaters for River Nasibi, which runs westwards to join River Etsaaba that is a major tributary of River Yala. Lower down, River Yala streams across Bunyore Hills en-route Gem, in Siaya. Bunyore Hills at the last link with Maragoli Hills to the far east, both known for a great deal of oddities not least as: the original residence for the Ankole Ancestors; a useful watchtower during tribal conflicts; a spine-chilling arena for ghost-casting rites; a stamping-ground for medicinal plants; and a hiking destination. Ebuhando Hill, the tallest, is the most popular trail. The Kima Rocks, Stone Hill Resort (built atop huge rocks) and the Church of God Headquarters are some headline places of interest within this landscape.

4. Kima Stone Mountain

Sometimes known as the Stone Mountain of Kima, this photogenic heap-tower of angular boulders acutely resembling a skewed arrangement of varying cubes and blocks, outgrown with effervescent variegated flora, is one the most visited area within the Bunyore Hills landscape. The geological curiosity of these finely chiseled boulders with almost perfect angles has intrigued many a tripper who aim to ascend it via the twisty and mixed-stair formation. The surrounding area is typified by the unusually large spherical boulders with a look of giant cannon balls. The main activity here is scrambling up Kima, exploring the nearby Kima Facility Center with a small fish hatchery, and ranging over the Bunyore and Maragoli Hills (and Mungoma Cave). Despite its appeal, Kima suffers the cross-cutting stumbling-block of a lack of coordinated county strategy to facilitate the bringing to date of tourism around the Bunyore and Maragoli Hills. Kima Stone Mountain is found about 3 kms from Luanda, along the Kima-Ebusakami Road.

5. Kima Church of God

4 kms east of Luanda via Kisumu-Busia Road and Ebusakami-Kima Road, past the Stone Hill Resort, sits one of the landmark Churches of Vihiga, which has a key role in the region’s socio-cultural development. Unique to the Kima Church of God is its connection to the modern Christian movement as well as that of traditional belief system. The initial wave of missionary work in Vihiga and its environs was intent on suppressing local religious movements. But in the wake of the reforms and approaches, and a new mindset, visitors to this region began to accede to the locals and nowhere is the native countenance better illustrated. Established in 1905 by Robert Wilson, a South African Missionary who had a vision while in South Africa of spreading the word in Bunyore, the dashing-red Church, with a roughcast coat finish and 40 feet tall twin towers, is also dubbed as the Singing Church after its solid, orderly, seasoned and live musical repose, which is undeniably native. During service, Kima Church rings out with some of the most heavenly traditional choir melodies you’ll ever hear across Kenya. So impressive, that the Christians Broadcasting Hope maintains a broadcast point and studio run by the indigenous leaders at the Kima Church of God. Next door Bunyore Girls High School Choir has wowed judges and audiences year-in-year-out at the Kenya National Music Festivals, and at the National Drama Festivals.

The Kima Church of God Choir recording Yesu Wanje at the CBH Studio

The Luhya have a distinct socio-historical origin, with specific cultural, religious beliefs and practices which enables them to have a unique religious / cultural identity and sustainable, meaningful understanding of aspects of life including the past, the present and the future. Further, the confluence of Luhya traditional religion and modern Christianity resulted into the evolution of various unique denominations in Vihiga, and Western Region of Kenya.

6. Mwitoko Fish Farm

Vihiga County has upward of 1631 farmers engaged in fishing farming. Of these, majority are mainly focused in raising tilapia and catfish which are big-eats in Western Kenya. Mwitoko Fish Farm is among the noteworthy fish farms found in Vihiga and this offers a great alternative touring site to spend an afternoon to wise on fish farming.  With 40 full-stocked ponds holding about 75,000 catfish, this intricate operation on appearance seems rather overwhelming but, the staff make light-work of monitoring and surveying all these ponds with sharp-witted facts about almost every inch of the farm. And the future looks bright. “A Shs 10 million fish hatchery is ongoing at Mwitoko Fish Farm, in Luanda Sub-county. We want to produce more than 100,000 fingerlings and different species of fish here and distribute them to farmers” Wilbur Ottichilo, Governor Vihiga County.

Spatial Location of Mwitoko Fish Farm in Vihiga County
Spatial Location of Mwitoko Fish Farm in Vihiga County

7. Kidundu Friends Church

To appreciate the full scale and beauty of the Bunyore Hills and Maragoli Hills, trippers would be interested in driving from Luanda to Majengo (junction with A104 Kisumu-Kakamega Road) via C38 Ebusakami-Kima-Majengo Road for 18 kms. The primary distinction between these hills is the location they fall under, the one found in Bunyore and the other in Maragoli – also known as Mungoma. Shortly before turning left at Majengo towards Kakamega one can make a quick detour (200 ms from Majengo) to the Kidundu Friends Church. Another of the impressive Churches in Vihiga. It too is exemplified by the dashing-red exterior finish redolent of that seen at Kima Church of God. Christened as Nemiilembe Church or Vihiga Meeting House, this was established by Quaker Missionaries, who arrived in Kenya around 1902 and headed to Kaimosi where they further grew their aims. Vihiga became one of the first places the Quakers started off in East Africa. They laid the foundation stone in 1905. Next to this Church is an ancient ‘Mugumo tree’ that formerly served as the Church, or the meeting place.

8. Maragoli Hills

Maragoli Hills (also known as the Mungoma Hills) just like the fascinating and contiguous Bunyore Hills are an easy site to reach on a 20 kms fetching joyride along the C38 Ebusakami-Kima Road which connects Luanda and Makutano: A seldom busy roadway that takes you across the emblematic hillocks of Vihiga – Bunyore and Maragoli – whose distinction is not much over in evidence apart from the names of locations they occur. There is little that separates these two rocky ranges, geologically and topographically, the latter being rockier and less wooded. There are various vantage points of the Maragoli Hills overlooking the picturesque rural backwoods of Vihiga, or for the more adventurous numerous trails along footpaths snaking through the old-fashioned bucolic villages. Then, there’s the famous middlebrow Mungoma Cave. In his book “The Stone Hills of Maragoli” Stanley Gazemba, the award winning Kenyan author, describes these Hills as “one of the simple things of this area but also one of the most splendid”. Sadly for the locals, a big section of the Maragoli Forest has been encroached by human habitat for settlement, timber and firewood, leaving the Hills with bare rocks – owing to high population growth rate leading to negative impact on the environment, climate and food security. On the brighter side, Maragoli Hills, the highest point in Vihiga County, are still a scenically-splendid destination, with incredible views of Lake Victoria and the greater Nyanza. They are located 20 kms from Luanda and 23 kms from Kisumu via A1 Kisumu-Kakamega Road.

9. Mungoma Cave

For centuries, cultures around the world have used caves as areas for dwelling, rituals and worship. Caves represent a mythical and underworld that bears the history of many a generation. Vihiga County has more than ten fine caves, many associated with its history. None, though, is as important as the Mungoma Cave consisted and formed by several huge boulders lumped close together leaving some hollow and winding openings inside: An oddity among its caves, not least because, it is considered the ancestral shrine of the Maragoli People.  As it goes, Mungoma Cave more proper the Hango Humulogoli was the home of Mulogoli, the Maragoli hero of origin. In that, an eternal link to an unmovable history. By the same token, two huts near the Cave are symbolic of its cultural significance. An annual festival in reverence of its history is held here annually, in December. Mungoma Cave does make for a wondrous caving adventure culminating in a hike around the lordly Maragoli Hills. Also found nearby are the Givavei Caves.

A walk through these openings takes close to one hour. But the darkness in the caves will scare the faint-hearted, so visitors are always advised to carry a spotlight to have a clear sight of this intriguing natural wonder. – Vivere N.

10. Givavei Cave

A call in on Mungoma Cave just alluded to is easily combined with the equally impressive Givevai Cave in the near Hamisi Sub-county.  Unlike the Mungoma that is underground, Givavei sits on the surface, surrounded by hulky boulders at the entrance. Inside the Cave are smaller sets of boulders scattered in which are often used as resting-areas by the explorers.  What is more, the area around this Cave, grown with uncommon flora in between impressive rocks, is inviting for on fleek countryside walks and trek through the village of Givavei in Hamisi.

11. Givavei Artisans

Also of interest while touring Givavei Cave is a call in on the Givavei Artisans. Descending from the Givavei region, these famed blacksmiths of Vihiga County have survived their sparse antediluvian industry. “The artisans and blacksmiths make utensils, decor items, furniture and other objects from wrought iron and scrap metal, for sale”. Their craft relies heavily on elbow grease and hot flames.  They offer a rare moment to see this primordial and outmoded craft in motion, using simple but spadework tasks. “The women are extremely gifted in various trades such as pottery and weaving. They form groups and collectively assemble products made from natural materials like banana fibre, animal skin and sisal fibre.” Aside from their practical uses these articles are distinguished souvenirs.

12. Givera Shrine

The singularity of the foot-like imprints on a rock at Givera Shrine, sometimes dubbed as Matsigulu Mystery Rocks, within a five-acres farm in Givere Village, have been the fascination of many a traveller, and, much in the nature of other parts of the world, betoken the presence of deities from the sky landing on site. Rather peculiarly, these ancient oddities spectacularly known as the ‘footprints of Jesus’ are engraved next to a cryptic maze of indecipherable writings etched on the surface of the rock, which raises the mystique of the site ten-fold. By the same token, the Givera Shrine has attracted a lot of religious attention, and has been the subject of old wives tales and myth including that of anyone trying to tamper with both the footprints and the writings would be stretching their luck too far. “In 2009, as the locals claim, a stone mason in the village was struck by an unexplained illness when he attempted to break the rock for construction”. These footprints, first reported in 1965, are a source of deiform power for the community and a pilgrimage shrine for many native denominations. It is also thought these prints have healing powers; where people seek divinity. Givere Shrine is located at Matsigulu near Mbale Town about 11 kms south of Majengo.

13. Chabuga Mausoleum

The upturn of modern Christianity in Vihiga County, largely undermining and botching the traditional African religious and cultural traditions, also attracted plenty of attention, allegiance and defiance from the native communities. The African Independent Church (AIC) was the leading Church that grew rapidly in Vihiga. But, it was also associated with colonialism, which locals felt animosity to. In opposition to this fresh wave of Christianity, the African Divine Church (ADC) was launched in 1978, inspired by the Nomiya Luo Church, as the faith for free Africa. Much to the surprise of the missioners and colonial government, the indigenous African Divine Church grew poste-haste. This little unassuming house in Gamalenga Village well-known to many of the locals was the residence for Archbishop Rev. James Chabuga Lilege, the father of African Divine Church.

14. Obadi Ombima Mill

Tools have always helped us achieve much and push civilization further. Today, our fast-moving world is a relatively happier one with innumerable gizmos that help us achieve unimaginable outcomes. It is a kindred lesson that life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward. Yet, time is misleading and the changes in technology a very mocking illusion. It’s hard to keep up with its pace, or, at best, resist it. When we do stumble upon an antwacky technology still in use, it is a sincere lesson that man since time immemorial has sought to fix the world around him to better the life of future generations. In Vihiga, at Karandini in Tambua Ward near Givavei, one outmoded mill has resisted the wave of technology and is still hard at work, a century later. This hydro-grain grinder has been owned and operated by the family of Shadrack Obida Ombima since it was set-up in the 1920’s, and is the only-known operational grinder of its kind in Vihiga, and perhaps in Kenya. It offers a glimpse into a foregone era, one that appears ineffably distant, and enshrines the simple ways’ of yesteryear.

15. Sosa Cottages

Situated between Mungoma and Givavei Caves via A1 Kisumu-Kakamega Road and the Gisambai-Mudete Road, about 5 kms from Majengo, is one of Vihiga’s greatest hotels today and one of its most lionized establishment. The 40-rooms (70-beds) Sosa Cottages that looks out to a wide angle horizon of Lake Victoria caters luxuriously for many business and casual callers to Vihiga. Sosa Cottages at Majengo offer a practicable holiday-rest for a weekend or longer. It is widely-lauded as one of the credible hotels in Western Kenya offering everyone a warm welcome and exceptional cuisine. Other amenities at Sosa include its swimming pool, lawns, fitness center with gym, bar and lounge and detached traditionally-inspired cottages. A tour around close by Maragoli Hills, Mungoma and Givavei Caves can be arranged. Sosa Cottages is the perfect base for excursions to many popular attractions in Vihiga County. It is located 32 kms north of Kisumu City.

Spatial Location of Sosa Cottages in Vihiga County

16. Mudete Tea Factory

The short 11 kms route from Majengo along the Gisambai-Mudete Road, which runs almost parallel to A1 Kisumu-Kakamega Road, terminates at Mudete and the junction with Stendi-Kisa-Cheptiret Road. Stendi-Kisa Road travels across Vihiga’s northern frontier from Ulumbi to Kakamega Forest through Chavakali and Kaimosi. These road takes in part of the tea county of Vihiga culminating at the Mudete Tea Factory; the largest factory in Western Kenya. Mudete caters to 13,514 tea farmers from Sabatia, Hamisi, Shinyalu, Ikholomani and Vihiga. For first-time callers to Vihiga the brisk and multi layered tea farms around Mudete and along Stendi-Kisa-Kapsabet-Cheptiret Road offers a catchy and memorable drive with Nandi Escarpment sighted in the east of Mudete, Lake Victoria in the south, and Mount Elgon in the north. At Mudete Tea Factory trippers can learn about tea processing. Vihiga County has a yearly output of 10 million kgs of tea.

17. Kaimosi Forest

11 kms easterly heading from Mudete via Stendi-Kapsabet-Eldoret Road sits the 1,000-acres Kaimosi Forest which straddles Hamisi Constituency and parts of Sabatia. Reminiscent of the Kakamega Forest Reserve located about 7 kms east, Kaimosi Forest is a thickly wooded tropical forest that harbours a peck of birds, vast reptiles and monkeys (blue monkey, L’hoest’s monkey, red tailed monkey, black and white Columbus). Both these forests comprise the last remnants of the venerable Congo Tropical Rain Forest that once stretched across much of Central Africa. At Kaimosi Forest, travellers can enjoy guided eco-forest tours, enjoy invigorating nature walks, picnics, cycling and team-building activities. Kenya Forest Service is responsible for the management of Kakamega Forest Reserve, North and South Nandi Forests, Malava, Ikuywa and Isecheno Forests. Withal, Kaimosi Forest is run and owned by Kenyan Quaker Mission Church (QMC) that allows approximately 3,000 locals to use the forest while abiding by local institutions, or local forest-use rules. Of the 22 selected forest areas in the Kakamega Forest Ecosystem, Kaimosi Forest has had the greatest issues with illegal logging; “of the 8,000-hectares of rainforest in Western Kenya, the 150-hectares Kaimosi Forest has suffered from the highest level of anthropogenic impacts”. Currently, there are seven villages closely surrounding the Kaimosi Forest – Cheptulu, Shipala, Bumbo, Maganda, Shamakhokho, Jivuye, and Mahanga. Although Kaimosi Forest is currently undergoing swingeing levels of deforestation, it provides medicinal plants, deadwood for cooking, deters soil erosion, and plays a major role in tribal ceremonies, for over 3,000 Tiriki locals.

18. Kaimosi Mission Conservancy

Established in 2011, the 80 km2 Kaimosi Mission Conservancy managed by the Kaimosi Friends Mission was set-up to take the edge off wanton destruction of Kaimosi Forest in favour of farms. Kaimosi’s healthful altitude and population, on the border between Tiriki and Nandi, with fertile soils, spurs deforestation. Kaimosi Mission (Quakers or the Friends Mission) is synonymous with with this region having arrived here in 1902 when Kaimosi was virtually unpeopled. “The British District Commissioner helped them identify a 1000-acres plot at Kaimosi, still a key focus for Kenyan Friends today, and an ideal location for the mission. At 5500 feet, the climate was comfortable, and the land was fertile and well forested, with ample water” – Mission in Kenya. As a premier, credible and mission capable force deeply set in professionalism, the Mission took up a lead role in the conservation of this fragile biosphere. Found nearby are the Kaimosi Guest House, Mago Guest House, Kakamega Reserve, and Mudete Tea Factory.

19. Kibiri Forest

Kibiri Forest found along C39 Chavakali to Kapsabet Road near Musasa Market was gazetted in 1932 along with Kakamega Forest Reserve, from which it was hived-off. The 37 km2 Kibiri Forest is typified by sharp slopes, deeps and steep valleys and it habours a motley collection and impressive profiles of flora and fauna all but self-same with those seen at Kakamega Forest Reserve. There is no accommodation at Kibiri Forest at the moment, but it is envisioned to have a public campsite. A 25-beds eco-lodge is under planning near Yala River Nature Reserve and a 30-beds eco-lodge within Malava Forest; both to encourage and extend more visitation to these forests. Additionally, a swinging bridge will be constructed across Yala River to link Yala Nature Reserve with the Kibiri Forest.

20. Kakamega Forest Reserve

Almost one-fifth of the 238 km2 Kakamega Forest Reserve sits on the eastern quarter of Vihiga County, seen along the Stendi-Kapsabet-Eldoret Road. There is genuine serenity and tranquil solitude about this tropical forest. Here, nature takes center stage. It is about the wide-band bird melodies of the rain forest? or the sunlight piercing through the forest canopy? or the amazeballs of its pretty waterfalls? or, even perhaps, the viewing deck at Bunyangu Hill that overlooks the roof of the forest? There is plenty to enjoy here. Kakamega Forest Reserve is both a scenic and exploratory park, and which adventure-makers can choose to discover by trekking, riding or driving. There are three accommodation options within Kakamega Forest – at Isikuti and Udo Guest Houses and Rondo Retreat.

Kenya – Aerial – Kakamega Forest, Lake Baringo, Mara, Naivasha, Kericho

21. River Yala

River Yala forms the natural border between Kibiri and Kakamega Forests as it streams from Nandi Escarpment, where it originates. It flows almost across the entire north border of Vihiga. River Yala and its tributaries in Kibiri Forest, that include Itsava Mwala, Lujesii (the Yordan), Malovi, Sirwa, Lurungula, Ishianda, Lunyu, Ishirongo, Malungu, Musanyi and Ijivir, is the major life-line in Vihiga, and its water is utilized for watering livestocks, domestic use, and small scale irrigation. For perpetuity, the Yala River Nature Reserve within the southern section of the Kakamega Forest, covering an area of 535-hectares, was begun in 2001 with the primary aim of conserving it. The southern part of the Yala River Nature Reserve falls under Vihiga County (under Kibiri Forest Station), whose boundary runs along the Yala River; while the northern part of this little-known nature reserve lies inside Kakamega County (under Kakamega Reserve Station).

Map of Kakamega-Forest and Associated Forests with Gazetted Boundaries
Map of Kakamega-Forest and Associated Forests with Gazetted Boundaries

22. Kichutu Gold Mine

Gold mining is Vihiga is practiced at low-scale in Luanda and Shaviringa areas. This is mainly due to a lack of technology and equipment to mine the available gold minerals, and that minimal prospecting has been done. Most of these ‘gold bearing rocks’ in Vihiga and Sabatia sub-counties are mined by using old world technologies, which yield low outputs. In the recent past, superior prospecting for gold and other minerals has kicked-off both at Kichutu and Kaimosi Forests.

23. Quail Farming

There are few things as beautifully Luhya as their uncommon cuisines. It is an increasingly rare experience to enjoy regional foods in their simple, authentic and unadulterated form. When in Vihiga County, it comes highly recommended to sample some of these signature cuisines, specially the Obusuma (ugali made with millet, maize, or cassava flour) served with greens, and, of course, quail: a small ground game bird and member of pheasant family. If you have the time, ask for local assistance into a quail farm to see how the natives fulfill the high demand for quails through simple and ingenious contractions. There are many farmers (and private sellers, too) who will make light and entertaining sessions on the knacks of quail farming, which makes for an interesting cultural passage.

View of a section of the Kibiri Forest.  Photo Courtesy of Nation Media Group
View of a section of Kibiri Forest. Image Courtesy of Nation Media Group

Geography of Vihiga County

Vihiga County is found within the Western Region of Kenya in the Lake Victoria Basin. Hence, it slopes gently from west to east. Generally speaking, Vihiga has undulating hills and valleys with streams, flowing from northeast to southwest, to drain into Lake Victoria. It has two main agro-ecological zones – the upper and lower midlands – and these zones chiefly dictate the land-use patterns and population settlement. The upper midland zone comprising of Hamisi, Sabatia and parts of Vihiga is well-drained and has high potential for crop farming like tea, coffee, maize, beans and bananas. The lower midland that’s comprised of Emuhaya and Luanda with loamy sand soil and basaltic rocks is less productive.

Land Use in Vihiga County

In terms of land use, 98% of the land in Vihiga County is under farming, mostly subsistence farming; while 1.3% is under housing. The main land-use types in Vihiga include; livestock, crop farming, tree plantations, fish farming and for settlements. Other land-use activities are soil mining for brick making and pot making, as well as, house construction. Sand and stone harvesting is another activities for which land is put to use. The increase in settlement areas reduces available arable land for livelihood activities. Most farming is in the rural areas.

Highlights in Vihiga County

Vihiga has great potential for tourism. Its sites include forests, scenic hills and heritage areas including the Mungoma Cave, bird’s sanctuary and Wagevere Rocks embossed with footprints at Matsigulu. Vihiga County also has a diverse and vibrant culture, with Maragoli Festival observed annually been epitomized with pomp.  Further opportunities exist in the development of cultural tourism. Inadequate entrepreneurial skills, limited land space, inadequate infrastructure and access to credit are the main challenges impeding development of tourism.

Population of Vihiga County

According to the 2009 Census, Vihiga County had a population of 554,622 and a population density of 1,044 persons / km2 – which is one of the highest in Kenya. Male:female ratio is 47.8 % and 52.2%. The population is estimated to have grown to 572,577 persons in 2012 and was projected to grow to 603,856 persons in 2017. Its population density has grown to 1,078 persons / km2, in comparison to the national average of 66 persons per / km2. The main urban centres are Mbale, Chavakali, Jeptulu, Vihiga and Luanda, whose estimated population in 2012 was 92,881, and which was projected to be 106,908 by 2017.

View of the Kidundu Friends Church near Majengo.  Photo Courtesy
Kidundu Friends Church near Majengo. Image Courtesy of KFMC

Airports in Vihiga County

Vihiga County has no working airstrips and relies on the neighbouring Kisumu County for flight service. Its airstrip at Kaimosi and Hamisi are not operational.

Roads in Vihiga County

The road network in Vihiga County is reasonably good. The county’s total road network in length is 1,058.2 km2: Bitumen roads cover 201 kms, gravel roads 373 kms, and earthen roads 483 kms. The A1 and B1 Roads cut through Vihiga.

Climate in Vihiga County

Vihiga experiences a high equatorial climate with well distributed rainfall year-round. Temperatures range between 14ºC to 32ºC. Long rains fall in March, April and May which are wettest, while short rains fall in September, October and November. The hottest months between December, January and February.

Vihiga County Distance Chart
Vihiga County Distance Chart

View of Sosa Cottages.  Photo Courtesy of Trip Advisor
View of Sosa Cottages. Image Courtesy of Trip Advisor

National Monuments in Vihiga County

There are no designated national monuments in Vihiga County

Vihiga County Map

Vihiga County Map